It is very weird to wake up, look out one’s window (these are true windows and even if I have an “obstructed view”: read – a lifeboat in front of my nose – it is a full-sized window and not just a porthole) and see trees close enough to touch! We had arrived in Skagway, docking before anyone was awake to see it.
We had rented a car for the day, but the first thing we noticed on our way into town was that the busses had double license plates: American and Canadian. They travel across the border so often that they need to have both. The second thing were the painted and inscribed rocks along the cliff where we were docked – we never did find out the why’s for this, but most seemed to be dedicated to captains and perhaps it was simply more visible this way, as well as being more durable, because although we are enjoying a spate of good weather, this is definitely not the case normally. Another thing I finally took a picture of was of one of the numerous espresso huts. Starbucks has made its' way everywhere, but the Alaskans still have their huts around most corners: walk up, order and take away - no room for sitting.
At the beginning we had thought that Whitehorse was an easy destination of about 65 miles, but we found throughout the day that nothing was as it seemed and that every bit of information gleaned from phones, maps and road signs was conflicting! Of course the problem of having miles on one side and kilometres on the other didn’t help, nor did the changing from Alaska time to Pacific Standard time: another day and we would have been so confused that we would have attempted nothing!
As it was we headed for Whitehorse over the summit on the South Klondike Highway, stopping in every turn out existing. The terrain was high altitude although the summit was only 2’865 feet (873 m). The history of the building of the wagon trail, the railroad (funded by British backers Michael Heney using 35’000 workers – finished it in 26 months!) and the road is a saga.
|Train tracks on the opposite side|
|Trestle bridge for the train|
|One of hundreds of waterfalls|
|One of hundreds of alpine lakes, each one prettier than the last|
|Peaks playing with the clouds|
We stopped in Carcross, which was originally called Caribou Crossing due to the immense herds of caribou: there we visited the train station, discovered the totems of Keish – a native to Carcross – as well as the world’s smallest “desert” an area of sand dunes caused by the find grinding of glacial rocks then continued on to Emerald Lake – one of the world’s most beautiful as due to silt, the sun and various other elements it has rainbow colors that my photos couldn’t capture in their entirety.
|Carcross and the only caribou we saw.|
|Train bridge at Carcross with the White Pass & Yukon train.|
|Abandoned structures disintegrate quickly|
|One of many Keisha Totems|
|The world's smallest desert|
We traveled on to Whitehorse – a name attributed to this city as the natives thought that the rapids just out of town resembled a white horse’s mane: the rapids no longer exist having been turned into a source of energy. There we had a quick lunch and picked up e-mails (I had been off-line for 72 hours at that point – unheard of!) before heading back.
On the way we stumbled across a bear right at the side of the road: as he was young and intent on eating the grass we rolled down our windows and this photo was taken about 3 feet from him!
After turning in the car we walked back to our cruise ship and watching them cast off (a process in itself) before leaving Skagway and returning back down the Lynn canal.
Truly a memorable drive and day: oh, did I mention – the thermometer hit 80°F (27°C) in Whitehorse!